Sports Ministry Sanctions Change of Guard at AFN

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Ibrahim Shehu Gusau
  • Gusau’s faction declares autonomy from sports ministry

Duro Ikhazuagbe

The suspension of Ibrahim Shehu Gusau as President of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN), has received the blessings of the country’s apex authorities on sports matters, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.

Gusau’ deputy, Olamide George who is acting as AFN president until the outcome of the panel set up on Tuesday in Abuja to investigate allegations of infractions against the former member of the House of Representatives, was received at the ministry yesterday.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Adesola Olusade, received in audience George as the acting president of the athletics body.

Although details of the meeting remained sketchy as at press time, receiving George by the permanent secretary appears an approval of the decisions taken at the AFN meeting in Abuja on Tuesday.

Nine members of the athletics board met earlier in the week and suspended Gusau and announced George as acting president.

However, in a swift move to denounce the meeting in Abuja, Gusau led some of his loyalists on the AFN board to another Congress in Awka, Anambra State where he denounced the Sports’ Ministry’s alleged interference in the affairs of the athletics body.

A Twitter message posted after it’s socalled ‘Extra Ordinary Congress’ in Akwa came out with a resolution declaring it’s autonomy from the ministry, citing ‘interference’ as reason to stand alone.

The tweet read in part: “Following the resolution by state chairmen at the just concluded AFN Extraordinary Congress attended by major stakeholders in athletics, the board has decided to declare autonomy from the ministry citing interference” as reason to end years of going cap in hand for government money to fund its activities.

Gusau dismissed his suspension, insisting that it was a “waste of time and null and void.”

Although the embattled AFN president claimed to have 27 of the country’s 36 states athletics association chairmen with him, insiders at the gathering in Awka revealed that majority of those Gusau claimed to be representing the states were nothing but coaches and some hanger-on in sport.

“Who are those they are claiming to have as state athletics chairmen? Majority of them are jobless former athletes and coaches. Let’s wait and see how they will operate their so-called faction when the time comes,” a respectable voice on track and field who did not want to be quoted due to his position in Nigerian sports told THISDAY on telephone last night

Nigeria’s Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, who has been calling for a new beginning for the sector in other for the country to take her rightful place in global sports, clocked 100 days in office yesterday.

He is out of the country attending the 2019 African Economic Conference on Jobs, Entrepreneurship and capacity building for African Youth in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt.

The minister was rankled by the shoddy handling of Nigeria’s participation at the last IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

His ministry directed the AFN to investigate the reasons leading to the disqualification and later reinstating Nigeria’s top athletes, Blessing Okagbare and Divine Oduduru from their respective events.

Amongst other allegations against the Gusau led board include, refusing to pay athletes and coaches balance of their allowances when such funds have been released by the Ministry.

Gusau’s AFN narrowly escaped ban from IAAF over the $135,000 erroneously paid to Nigeria but took the coming of Sunday Dare as Sports Minister to refund the money in full to the world athletics body just last month.